What To Look For When Hiring an SEO Candidate
- SEO, if executed properly, can be one of a company’s most important inbound marketing efforts, helping an organization drive more sales/leads.
- Having the right in-house SEO specialist is a crucial hire. The wrong strategy and the opportunity costs of higher rankings can set you back months or years.
- There’s a general assumption that if you hire an SEO, they will be good at all elements of SEO. SEO consists of many different skills, including content, technical, strategy, and public relations (to name a few). Ensuring your company hires the right SEO based on your requirements is imperative.
- A benefit of using an agency vs. hiring someone in-house is that, typically, an agency employs several people who specialize in different areas. Alternatively, the benefit of hiring an in-house SEO is more time can be allocated to one specific account versus an agency.
- I’ve included various SEO job titles, descriptions, and responsibilities. You can use this information as a template if you’re posting a job or a resource as you’re looking for the right candidate.
Note: Our agency has interviewed hundreds of SEO candidates and made countless hires for our agency and on behalf of our clients for their in-house needs. Contact us if you want to utilize our SEO hiring process to find the right candidate for your company.
Helpful Hiring Tactic
- It can be easy to come across as an SEO expert through your resume or a 15-30 minute interview.
- When we hire SEO candidates, we like to provide them with an SEO task based on the skill set that we’re hiring for.
- For example, when we recently hired an SEO specialist at our agency, we sought someone with eCommerce SEO experience. We provided them with several client product pages and had them complete an optimization checklist within a 4-hour time requirement. We compensated everyone who participated. The ability to gauge the pretenders versus contenders was astonishing. We use this tactic now for all hires.
- This paid exercise showed us the ability to complete tasks on a deadline, plus candidates’ critical thinking skills. It was also interesting to see how much someone could get done within a specific time allotment.
Note: If you need help developing a custom exercise or evaluating SEO tasks completed by candidates, contact The Media Captain!
- According to GlassDoor, the average salary for an SEO specialist is $68,826 per year.
- According to Indeed.com, the average salary for an SEO specialist is $62,211 per year.
- According to Salary.com, the average salary for an SEO manager is $92,000 per year.
- According to GlassDoor, the average salary for an SEO manager is $86,709 per year.
When you want cream-of-the-crop SEO talent, in many instances, you must pay more than what the job posting boards list as the average salary. For example, an SEO Manager for a large brand will make well above six figures. Many people have “SEO” as their expertise when they aren’t true SEO experts. Optimizing a webpage based on Yoast’s recommendations is very entry-level knowledge. Being able to devise an SEO strategy based on a company’s business objectives is a completely different ballgame. Being able to differentiate talent levels is crucial for search engine optimization. Our list below will help you evaluate talent.
SEO Job Titles and Descriptions
Below are different SEO job titles and descriptions that can be used as a job posting template when seeking an SEO candidate. Beneath each bullet point set is advice when hiring for these different positions based on our hiring experience.
SEO Content Writer
- Strong writing and journalism background.
- Responsible for creating and enhancing content throughout your website.
- Gather information from across the web and from industry experts on your staff to add to your site.
- Ability to use AI as a resource but not solely rely on AI for content creation.
- Ability to write on complex subject matters.
- Strong grammar and spelling.
- Ability to link internally to other relevant pieces of content on your site.
- Understanding of keywords, title tags, and descriptions.
- The content writer often takes direction from the SEO Specialist or SEO Manager based on the overall strategy.
- If your content specialist devises the strategy, you may consider elevating them to a more advanced role.
- If the SEO content writer understands keywords, title tags, and descriptions, this is a plus but not a requirement.
- Someone with a strong writing background without prior SEO knowledge can be trained and contribute as a valuable asset to your organization.
- As you evaluate candidates with practice tasks, ensure that AI does not write their content. Originality.AI is a great tool to check for AI-generated content and plagiarism.
- Strong PR background.
- Ability to conduct outreach via email while also utilizing social media channels.
- Responsible for increasing the company’s backlink profile from high-quality, authoritative, relevant sites.
- Ability to think outside the box to get brand mentions on external sites.
- Monitor the brand name to see if there are missing link opportunities on sites that mention the company name without linking back.
- Competitor research to see where competing sites are getting external links.
- Strong resilience is needed to deal with frequent rejection.
- Report on new links acquired and the correlation between the jump in keyword rankings.
- Most companies don’t hire someone in-house to focus solely on link building.
- If you hire a link builder, ensure they have good outreach practices and get links from high-quality sites.
- There are a lot of similarities between someone great at PR and someone great at link-building.
- Entry-level position with less than three years of experience.
- Broad understanding of various elements of SEO (on-site, off-site, local).
- Critical thinking ability.
- Strong communication skills.
- Ability to devise SEO strategy.
- Ability to help with execution.
- Ability to track keyword rankings and compile reports.
- Familiarity with Google Analytics and Google Search Console and ability to take key data points and translate to tasks and strategy.
- It’s advised that an SEO Specialist has someone with more experience to consult with, whether that’s someone in-house or agency support.
- The SEO specialist will likely be raw with complex strategy development.
- If you have an SEO specialist who constantly improves keyword rankings for your business, you have a keeper!
- If performing well, an SEO specialist should naturally progress into an SEO Manager role over time, confidently compiling strategy.
- Minimum of 3 years of SEO experience (either in-house or agency).
- Ability to compile high-level strategies and reports.
- Confident to meet with upper management to relay key data points onward.
- Strong business knowledge and acumen.
- Learn the business’s most profitable and high-growth core areas and construct an SEO strategy based on these initiatives.
- Ability to take insights from Google Analytics and keyword tracking software to adjust the strategy based on key performance metrics.
- Technical SEO knowledge: Ability to communicate with developers and articulate how the SEO strategy will align with your site.
- Strong Foundational SEO Understanding: Title tags, descriptions, headings, local SEO, blog strategy, keyword research, Search Console, Analytics
- Strong Communication Skills
- Ability to communicate with multiple departments within a team or organization.
- Hiring Ability
- The ability to hire an in-house SEO candidate or an Agency.
- The ability to hire an in-house SEO candidate or an Agency.
- The SEO Manager shouldn’t need direction from someone else within your organization. They should be able to ask the right questions about your business, marry this up to key data points within Analytics and keyword tracking software, and construct an SEO strategy. This person will also know whether or not additional resources are needed for SEO, such as development, writing, or technical support.
Technical SEO Specialist
- Responsible for serving as the “webmaster” to make changes and oversee your website.
- Well-versed with HTML, CSS, JS, and site architecture.
- Ability to confidently make changes in the website content and structure.
- Page load speed time enhancements.
- robots.txt files, canonical tags, pagination, and redirects.
- Plugin updates and customization.
- Sitemap submissions.
- Schema markup.
- If you hire someone proficient with technical SEO, they will not need as much development support. The technical SEO specialist could delegate more content-driven tasks to an agency or someone else within your organization.
- As user experience and website maintenance become more important, having someone technically sound serves an important purpose.
- Developers often need guidance from an SEO Specialist or an SEO Manager. Many assume that web developers know SEO well, which isn’t always true.
Related Article: Learn what in-depth SEO strategy looks like for one of our clients
SEO Responsibilities & Needed Skills
There are many responsibilities that an SEO expert has and skills that are needed to succeed. Below is a list of what we look for in our SEO hires. Just keep in mind, one person won’t have all of these skills, so hiring the right person or agency is going to be key. These skills are additional items that can be added to your job posting.
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- There is no direct path to success for SEO. You need to be able to think outside of the box to find solutions.
- Writing and Journalism
- Research Ability
- It’s important to analyze other websites that are ranking well. Often, there are industry experts you’ll need to interview to enhance content. Research plays a big role in SEO.
- Strong Communication Skills
- Whether you’re communicating with team members, developers, management, or an agency, being a strong communicator helps with SEO.
- Business and Industry Knowledge
- Some complex businesses and industries take time to understand. Whether eCommerce, B2B, or B2C, it helps when you have an SEO candidate with experience within your industry. Is this a must? No. Can it expedite the process? Yes.
- WordPress is the most popular content management system. Being able to navigate WordPress and implement changes is a big plus. You don’t need development skills to create and enhance pages on WordPress.
- Keyword Tracking
- Whether you’re using software like SEMRush or Moz, an SEO expert should be well-versed with keyword tracking software. It’ll be essential for your business to have the proper software to measure success and make changes based on data.
- Keyword Research
- Picking the right keywords plays a big role in the SEO strategy. An SEO expert should be able to conduct keyword research, regardless of the vertical.
- Google Analytics
- Having an understanding of Google Analytics is imperative for SEO. Your candidate needs to be able to evaluate the top pages visited on your site, total organic traffic, bounce rate, etc, and make key decisions based on the data.
- Google Search Console
- GSC is where you can monitor the overall SEO health of your site, from your backlink profile to manual action penalties to sitemaps. Understanding Google Search Console is a must for any SEO.
- Strategy Development
- Every business should follow some SEO strategy. It’s the responsibility of your in-house SEO expert or your agency to outline this strategy. This will clearly help you understand what’s being worked on while ensuring the deliverable aligns with your business objectives.
- Google Business Profile and Local SEO
- If your business has a local presence, local SEO knowledge is necessary. Having a keen understanding of Google Business Profile and localized keywords goes a long way.
- Backlink Building and PR
- Strong backlinks still carry a lot of weight. It’s important for your SEO expert to understand whether or not acquiring new links will help with your SEO strategy. If you need help building links, having strong PR skills will help. You can also leverage your blog to create shareable content that will lead to backlinks pointing to your site.
- When hiring someone for SEO, you want to ensure they can report on key performance metrics. They need to be able to justify the return on investment of SEO.
- Technical Skills
- Responsively designed site, sitemaps, page speed, URL structure, schema, site navigation, broken links, large image files, and more. Getting your technical SEO elements fixed will improve your SEO.
- One of the most common misconceptions in SEO is that blogging and fresh content will improve your SEO. Ensure you have someone who can add valuable content to your site so your blog strategy is viable.
- Ability to Pivot
- There are thousands of algorithm updates that Google runs each year. Your competitors are making changes to their sites to leapfrog your business. The ability to pivot on a dime is sometimes needed in SEO.
- SEOs wear a lot of different hats
- Find the right SEO with the skills to best align with your business needs.
- You may not fill all of your SEO needs with one person. This is where an agency is helpful or finding someone who can delegate and hire additional resources.
- Many people claim to know SEO very well, but when push comes to shove, it’s a complex matter that covers many different areas and skills so be diligent in your hiring research.
- Hiring the wrong SEO can set you back and cost you time and money.
If you’re questioning your SEO strategy, we’re more than happy to look it over. If you need help hiring an SEO, contact The Media Captain.